In the early years, baseball was his life and he played it well. A catcher by choice, Don Lombardi was a “little guy” by today’s standards – playing most of his career with about 140 pounds, most of it heart, on his 5-6 frame. He excelled on area sandlots in the Greater Akron AA Baseball League and at the University of Akron. Don broke into the AA League as a 16-year old with Chester’s Diner. A year later he was with Krispy Kreme where he put in three seasons and had one season with Zoff Heating before joining the newly formed Tramonte Black Label team in 1960. Lombardi batted .428 that first year with the Black Labels and was voted the Frank Garcia Award as the League’s MVP. While with Tramonte, which dominated the AA League for years, Lombardi helped the Labels capture three Ohio American Amateur Baseball Congress Championships. He was named to the AA All-Star team for 12 consecutive seasons before his career ended with an Achilles tendon injury at the age of 32. Intermixed with the AA League was a four-year career at UA from 1957 thru 1960. For the Zips, Don batted .410 in ’57 and was UA’s MVP and first team All-Ohio Conference choice in ’58 when UA was co-champs in the OC with a 12-4 record. However, it is evident that Lomardi’s memory has faded and he’s become rather sentimental when he says the highlight of his baseball career was when he performed as the all-day pitcher on his 8-year old grandson’s instructional league team in 1993. Spoken like a living grandfather! In 1983, Don, who caught such Hall of Famers as Dave Young, Ray Glinsky and Jack DiLauro, was in the second class inducted into the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame.